Friday, June 30, 2017

crash

Straight home from KL, we opened the door with luggage in tow to find that the awning which sheltered the balcony of the neighbor's flat above had crashed into our balcony.

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Heavy rain and torrential winds had apparently ripped the aging awning off the structure it was clinging to, and blew the carnage not vertically down to the ground floor, but sideways into our balcony, shearing and destroying our bamboo blind and knocking off some bikes in the process.

What a strike!

We can only be very thankful that the awning didn’t fall all the way down and flatten some unsuspecting person who might have been walking down below. Or hurt us.

And I am very thankful KK took charge of the “claim”, firmly batting away the endless apologies and making sure that the owner of the flat above paid for the swift replacement of our blind. I wisely kept quiet, because if left to me I’d make friends with the owner, tell her “it’s OK, it’s OK”, accept her apologies and pay for my own replacement blind!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

kl: a community

For a short spell, we hung around a cluster of aged public flats, with dark stains mottling the walls and patches of rust where there was metal.

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* Choon, who also feels the pull of the flats

Never mind the cosmetics. It seemed a community I would be happy to live in. (It’s where Phoebe’s cousin grew up in)

Day and Jo don’t agree, of course. So old and dirty, they said. They didn’t even want to stay very long in the playground.

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* The slide, which comprises marble slabs

But I'm a bit of a romantic at heart. As the sun set and kids started streaming out from the flats which bordered a patch of green, and as parents came out to sit on the stone benches to chit-chat, it felt rustic and homely and golden.

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Some of the ground-floor occupants ran provision shops, all manner of drinks and ice-creams and sweets and chips and biscuits dangling enticingly in their balconies which attracted  children by the hordes. “Uncle, ice-cream,” a little boy with ringgit in his hand shouted, as the owner who was watching TV in his living room walked out to make the sale.

Outside, we heard loud pops as some kids started playing with what appeared to be firecrackers.

Monday, June 26, 2017

kl: siu yoke

Once we knew that we’d have to go to KL, Gong Gong went on and on about a Siu Yoke (roast pork belly) stall.

He ate there with a friend before. He felt it was very good and he wanted to have it again with us in tow.

So apart from the wedding stuff, that was the sole item on our KL agenda: Eat Siu Yoke.

On the morning when Choon and Phoebe were at the Chinese restaurant to put up their wedding decorations and fix last-minute issues, we hopped into two Grab taxis and went to the address scrawled on a piece of paper which Gong Gong had been keeping in his pocket.

Gong Gong had been hustling us to hurry up and get to the place to beat the queue. We got there just past 11am and found out that lunch was only served from 1230pm. Never mind. The few servers who were languidly sitting around the empty coffeeshop waiting for their boss to prepare the pork told us: OK, you’re Number 1!

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* Signboard

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* Price list. Not so cheap

The kids have never waited 90 minutes for a meal. We sat around, drank tea and coffee, chit-chatted, helped ourself to free-flow pork-bone soup, I walked around the neighbourhood and spotted some men skinning a bull’s head, everyone went to toilet.

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* The entire coffeeshop tanking up on drinks and soup while waiting

By 1230pm, the place was packed with people standing around waiting for tables and nothing had been served yet. We were bored out of our brains. Por Por said, “This Siu Yoke had better be good”. Gong Gong, not wishing to commit, replied, “You eat and then see lor.”

All the cooking - at least of the Siu Yoke star of the show - was done by one man and he was still roasting behind the shop in an alley. Each time he was done, one of his assistants would haul the slab of pork and bring it to the front of house.

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* The chef, labouring over two, er, oil drums in which the pork is roasted. He only makes enough for lunch and apparently closes at 3pm

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Happily, we were really #1. The first plates of roast pork, rice, char siew and roast chicken came our way, which we polished off in a hurry as a family stood over our table. (they later said that they came to queue every day)

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* Family waiting for our table, and the queue

The rice and chicken were forgettable but the Siu Yoke, what can I say? I daresay it’s probably the best I’ve ever had. My fussy father, mother and brother were all nodding their heads in satisfaction. Thick with distinct layers of a heck-of-a-lot-of fat, it melts in the mouth with a delicate spray of warm oil and a crackly crunch of crust. Frightfully sinful.

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* Siu Yoke

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* Char Siew 

KK and Day rather enjoyed the char siew too. The girls, however, had their usual issue with fat (they don't like it, they think its slimy) and so they separated and ate only the lean park of the Siu Yoke. Which completely defeated the purpose.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

kl: wedding

Following the March ROM, and the April photo shoot in Melbourne, the penultimate event in the very long runway of events leading up to Choon and Phoebe’s Big Wedding Lunch in Singapore was their wedding in Kuala Lumpur.

(This year is really the couple’s year)

Phoebe is a KL girl. While her father and three siblings reside there, she’s the only one who came out to Singapore during her university years. She goes back pretty often and she’s got heaps of family and friends there.

The Singapore contingent heads up North and comes back down in two cars. Three days, two nights. This was our time to get to know our new "relatives" in Malaysia a little better!

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* The patriarchs

We mostly hung out at the KL suburb where Phoebe’s family home is located, in Jinjang. It apparently used to have loads of gangsters in the 70s, but is now a residential neighbourhood with a high proportion of Chinese.

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* View of Jinjang from our hotel room window

These are the wedding bits which struck me:

The Dowry

Phoebe’s family is fairly traditional and there are many things – never done during my wedding because we are so bo chup - which I see for the first time.

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My parents have to present her dad with a dowry.

Upon arrival in KL, my folks quickly assemble a basket of fruits and alcohol. I think the dowry also includes gold jewelry and a roast suckling pig (money was passed over in a red packet for the pig to be served during the dinner).

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* At the KL bridal shop, Fai Fong Bridal Gifts & Bakery

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 * Por Por, tired from the six-hour drive

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* Selecting beautiful fruits for the basket

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* My parents present this basket to Phoebe's dad

The House Buffet

The night before the formal dinner, Phoebe’s family host an outdoor buffet dinner at their family home for what feels like hordes of people.

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* Before the deluge...

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* Phoebe in white in the middle, greeting all her relatives

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* Us

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Tents were set up, tables brought in were accessorized with pink tablecloths and red plastic chairs, the cooking (including the preparation, we saw them cutting and slicing at about 3pm) was done on-the-spot, in huge woks, with gas and water tubes running all over the sidewalk.

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* Preparing food at 3pm, next to the er, lamp post and street sign

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* Frying chicken wings!

Phoebe’s brothers, in preparation for the onslaught of cars, “booked” lots with the neighbours. And there really were so many cars, after the party there was a traffic jam with cars passing within inches of each other. But I don’t think anyone really minded. That’s the nice thing about Malaysia. If we did that in Singapore, the neighbours would raise a ruckus and complain to the Prime Minister. (I suppose one could argue that in Singapore, no one would organize a party which spills into most of the neighbours' private spaces..)

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The food, was divine. Maybe because it’s piping hot, it was really excellent. Especially these chicken wings which were snatched up batch after batch, despite being fresh out of the oil and sizzling hot. KK ate tons.

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The Dinner

The wedding dinner was at a Chinese restaurant which wasn't an ordinary restaurant, it looked as if it had been built for events. 

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It had a cavernous ceiling and no pillars, with an enormous stage and what looked to be a super-bright LED screen on which Choon and Phoebe’s wedding photos were beamed with crystal-clear clarity.

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* I wrote that board!

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* The unforgettable first-dish song, which was so blaringly loud it caused quite a few guests to clap their hands over the ears

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* Our menu, which I can't read. But food was great

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Por Por was asked to sing a song at the last-minute. She showed off her karaoke chops with Shanghai Beach.



Phoebe’s father, we find out, is also a karaoke fan. He showed off his vocal prowess with Cao Yuan Zhi Ye.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

housework

Its apparent from the Holiday Housework Tally that each of them gravitates towards certain chores.

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Not surprisingly, Day ends up cooking a lot.

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* Removing the skin from the chicken

He’s also the one who ends up doing the hardest chores which no one else wants to do, like washing up a sinkful of oily dishes and food scraps.

I know that whatever household chore I ask Day to do, he will get to it without complaint.

Jo does not like housework. Most times, she will never do what I ask her to do.

The two “Js” under vacuuming were self-assigned chores. She decided to vacuum because she realized she was losing out to her siblings in the housework “competition”. Vacuuming is also easy and fun, ever since we got the vacuum “gun”.

Lu whines a bit, but will get to it. Her thing is putting things in order, like returning all the odds and ends which make their way to the living room back in their original places.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

taekwondo gear

Fooling around.

Day recently got his taekwondo yellow belt and starts sparring.

He gets a set of full sparring gear – helmet, shin guards, arm guards, breastplate, crotch guard (whatever these things are called – which Jo promptly puts on so Day can box her without consequence.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

father’s day

“Let’s go to Paradise to celebrate Father’s Day,” Por Por said.

“What? Why always Chinese restaurants?” the kids chorus.

These, are my entitled, bratty, spoilt kids.

So what if Por Por likes top-notch Chinese food? And so what if we always go to Chinese restaurants like Tung Lok and Canton Paradise for every single family celebration? It’s a huge blessing, especially when she pays. (of course, sometimes we do)

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* Bill! (Teng to check, Por Por to pay)

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* Tim sum

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* The girls would like me to put up the Piggy Buns photo

Por Por once asked me, “So if I’m gone, who is going to organise and pay for all these outings?”

I said, “We’ll be going to hawker centres”. Because all three of her children are cheapskate.

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* Us three and our Papa...

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* ... these three and their Papa

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* Family photo, taken by Phoebe. What are you doing, Day?

Friday, June 16, 2017

holiday preferences

These days, I’m likely to sit at my computer and do work even when they’re at home with me all day, because organizing “fun” holiday stuff for them has become onerous. I have to persuade and cajole them to go along with my plan. What for?

And as I’m sitting at my computer or doing some housework, this is what would naturally take place if I didn't intervene:

* Day would be quietly on his laptop / mobile phone every single minute of the day. It's like he isn't at home.

* Jo would be on her mobile, occasionally stopping to play on the bar or hang out with Lu, maybe doing musical.ly (some sort of app) on her phone or taking some videos, or getting into some sort of quarrel with me if she bullies Lu.

* Lu would have her nose buried in a book, and sometimes she’d play. (that is premised on the fact that she doesn't yet have a mobile. I am dead certain that once she is given one, her nose will be buried in it, for when she does get her hands on my phone she can't seem to stop You-Tubing)

Lu is the only one who still wants to play, play as defined (by me) as some wholesome imaginative fun activity which doesn’t involve a screen. I grab on to these moments. These are the last vestiges of a halcyon past!

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* She pulls on a swimsuit, fills and ties up some water balloons and says: Hit me, Mama! (just like during her birthday)

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* From a Youtube video: She stretches a sock over a half-cut plastic bottle and immerses the sock into bubble solution

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* The underside of the sock

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* Blow...

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* ... bubble trail! (this is one of her few successful Youtube-inspired Science experiments)

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* Lulu and I at Breakwater #4

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* My little companion... still